Friday, January 25, 2013

" they need to develop their full potential"

COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education
Public Comment at the Maryland State Board of Education Meeting
December 17, 2012
By Joseph Ganem, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics
I am here to comment on COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education that the Maryland State Board of Education adopted earlier this year. I want to first thank the Board for adopting this regulation. As a lifelong educator, I have come to believe that education works best when it is tailored to address the specific needs of the students.
My interest, as a university professor, is that gifted and talented students throughout the state of Maryland are adequately prepared for the honors classes offered at higher education institutions. At the university where I teach, we provide an alternative pathway for gifted students to meet requirements for bachelors degrees through our Honors Program. This is a series of seminar courses that substitute for the normal general education requirements. The goal is to teach students to become excited by ideas, by providing an academically enriched environment. Exceptional students are challenged to think critically and write eloquently at levels higher than their college peers, in order to become creative and independent learners.
My concern arises from The Final Report of the Commission on Funding and Services for Gifted and Talented Student Education in Maryland, 2001 that found that "Services and resources for the gifted and talented vary dramatically from local school system to LSS in Maryland. Many of Maryland's gifted and talented students do not have access to the programs and services they need." This finding is still accurate today. I recently looked at the Websites of a number of school districts in the state and found wide discrepancies in the programming for GT students.
I believe that all of Maryland's gifted and talented students should have access to the differentiated education services they need in order to reach their full potential. This is why COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education is so important. It states in [.06.  Reporting Requirements] that:
Local school systems shall in accordance with Education Article  §5-401 (c) report in their Bridge to Excellence Master Plans their goals, objectives, and strategies regarding the performance of gifted and talented students along with timelines for implementation and methods for measuring progress.
I urge the Maryland State Board of Education and MSDE to monitor implementation of COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education and the Master Plan updates to be certain that this COMAR is being implemented as intended so that all Maryland Gifted and Talented Students will have the education they need to develop their full potential.

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